SmartMoney Blogs

Pay Dirt
A daily look at what we buy, how we spend, and the companies that do right - and wrong - by their customers.

Technology - All posts in category Technology

  • Oct 12, 2012
    1:21 PM ET

    Typical Twitter User: Has iPhone, Likes Purple

    She’s American, 28, has 208 followers, loves her iPhone, talks endlessly about her family and fashion – and her favorite color is purple. She’s also, according to new research, the average Twitter user.

    This composite character was pieced together through an analysis of 36 million Twitter profiles by Beevolve, a social media marketing firm based in London — but it’s more of weird science than an exact one. For instance, among Twitter’s active followers, the mean number of followers is 208, but more than four-fifths of the micro-blogging site’s members have fewer than 50. And, according to the survey, 25% of Twitter’s 140 million accounts have never been used. (Though some 40% of users have not tweeted over the last month, they may log on just to read tweets by others, says Jim Prosser, a Twitter spokesman.) The average age of 28 was calculated by analyzing both user bios and tweets.

  • Sep 20, 2012
    4:42 PM ET

    iPhone 5 May Devour Data Plans

    Apple didn’t change the price of its iPhones with the latest upgrade, but analysts say owning one is about to get a lot more expensive.

    The combination of a bigger screen, access to higher-speed LTE networks and the ability to use the FaceTime video chat app on a cellular connection mean the iPhone 5 — which goes on sale Friday — will likely gorge on more data than its predecessors.

  • Sep 18, 2012
    5:59 PM ET

    Spend $700 at Apple Store or on Apple Stock?

    Back in February, when Apple’s stock hit $500 – the same price as an iPad — we asked which was the better buy.  Most experts said the company’s stock was headed higher – and they were proved right.

    Investors who bought a single share of Apple (AAPL) back then would have earned $200. An iPad purchased in February, meanwhile, is now worth around $400 on the resale market.

  • Sep 18, 2012
    7:00 AM ET

    Many iPhone 5 Buyers Own a Damaged iPhone 4S

    Oscar Wilde said, “Each man kills the thing he loves.” Many iPhone owners can relate.

    Some 30% of iPhone users damaged their devices within the past 12 months, according to a study by gadget insurer Square Trade. The phones get far more scratched, soaked and abused than iPads, only 10% of which were damaged during the same time period, based on data from 2,000 customers. Perhaps part of the reason some 2 million new iPhone 5s were preordered in the first 24 hours is that many customers didn’t have a choice: Their older models needed replacing.

  • Sep 12, 2012
    2:57 PM ET

    Confessions of an Apple Sheep

    Today millions of seemingly rational people fished a fully functional iPhone from their pockets and contemplated hurling the device out the window. I know, because I am one of them.

    Like many, I committed to the iPhone 5 upgrade even before Apple CEO Tim Cook unveiled the new device with the usual burlesque slideshow presentation. It’s not that I have any major complaints with my iPhone 4S — sure, it occasionally freezes up and the battery doesn’t always make it through the day, but it’s probably the best piece of technology I’ve ever owned. Nor do I think the thinner, faster, bigger-screened and brushed aluminum iPhone 5 will do a substantially better job of delivering email, locating restaurants, playing music, or distracting my four-year-olds at restaurants with unusually slow service. But I want it anyway.

  • Aug 28, 2012
    6:43 PM ET

    Google Turns Its Home Page Into a Billboard

    Just days after Apple’s patent victory over Samsung, the tablet marketing wars are heating up. is advertising its two-month-old $199 Nexus 7 tablet. But Google has one marketing weapon its competitors can’t match: A homepage that gets a virtually guaranteed hundreds of millions of views a day.

    Click on Google’s search page on  Wednesday the Nexus 7 pops up from the bottom of the page with the slogan: “The playground is open. The new $199 tablet from Google.” So why now? “This is a great time for Google to promote this tablet,” says branding consultant Rob Frankel. Given the uncertainty about how Apple’s victory will impact Android manufacturers, he says now is the time to aggressively push those devices. (Google says that most of Apple’s patent claims don’t relate to its core Android operating system.)

  • Aug 23, 2012
    4:29 PM ET

    Who Inherits Your iTunes Library?

    Many of us will accumulate vast libraries of digital books and music over the course of our lifetimes, but when we die, our collections of words and music may expire with us.

    Someone who owned 10,000 hardcover books and the same number of vinyl records could bequeath them to descendants, but legal experts say passing on iTunes and Kindle libraries would be much more complicated. And one’s heirs stand to lose huge sums of money. “I find it hard to imagine a situation where a family would be okay with losing a collection of 10,000 books and songs,” says Evan Carroll, co-author of “Your Digital Afterlife.” “Legally dividing one account among several heirs would also be extremely difficult.”

  • Aug 10, 2012
    1:54 PM ET

    iPhone Resale Prices Peak: Should You Sell Early?

    A cautionary note for Apple’s Undecided: If you want an iPhone 5, it might pay to sell your iPhone 4S now—especially if you can survive a couple of weeks without either one.

    The hotly anticipated iPhone 5 is widely expected to hit stores around Sept. 12, and analysts expect some major structural changes. “There’s a lot more hype this time around, with speculation about a larger and slimmer screen,” says Anthony Scarsella, chief gadget officer at technology resale site As the release day gets closer, the market is likely to be flooded with old iPhones; 84% of people who previously traded in old iPhones are already preparing to do so again, according to a survey of 1,400 Gazelle customers. But in the past, those floods have turned into gluts, typically causing prices to drop by 20% to 25%, says Jeff Trachsel, chief marketing officer of resale site

  • Aug 8, 2012
    5:56 PM ET

    Should You Cut the Cable Cord?

    Americans still want their TV. It’s just fewer seem willing to pay for it.

    Cable, satellite and telecom TV-service operators lost an estimated 400,000 customers during the second quarter, according to a report today in The Wall Street Journal. Some analysts told the paper that although the second quarter is typically weak, since college students temporarily disconnect dorm service at the end of the school year, the overall decline points to more consumers moving away from paid TV services, a practice known as “cutting the cord.”

  • Aug 2, 2012
    4:58 PM ET

    Is Kindle Fire Burning the iPad?

    The iPad hasn’t gotten any smaller since it was launched two years ago, but new research suggests its market share may be shrinking.

    Half of all tablet owners in the United States own Apple’s tablet, a drop from 72% this time last year, according to a new report by Frank N. Magid Associates, a marketing research firm in New York. What’s behind the dramatic drop? The proliferation of cheaper tablets, including the $199 Kindle Fire, says Tom Godfrey, the firm’s director of mobile strategy who interviewed 4,700 people for the survey. He estimates that the Fire, launched last year, already accounts for 22% of the tablet market. (Apple declined to comment, and Amazon did respond to requests for comment).

About Pay Dirt

  • Pay Dirt examines the millions of consumer decisions Americans make every day: What to buy, how much to pay, whether to rave or complain. Lead written by Quentin Fottrell, the blog examines these interactions, providing readers with news, insight and tips on shopping, spending, customer service, and companies that do right – and wrong – by their customers. Send items, questions and comments to or tweet @SMPayDirt.